Wednesday, June 28, 2006


From The Age (Australia) (link is to the whole story):

POPE Benedict wants only "authentic" sacred music in church services, which includes traditional choirs and Gregorian chant but not guitars or folk/popular-style choruses.

Speaking after a concert in his honour in the Sistine Chapel at the weekend, the Pope said sacred music must take into account the tradition of the church, especially "sacred polyphony".

Leading Melbourne Catholic singer and songwriter Juliette Hughes sympathised with the Pope. "There's lots of dreadful guitar music that is a stumbling block to people who want to come back to church — that dreadful 'I want to have a beer with Jesus' music," she said.

I like that description. I'll have to remember that next time I get a call for sacro-pop. "So, would you like to have a beer with Jesus today?" Kinda like the Crescat's post about "Christ our Buddy" (still funny to this day).

Hat tip to Ignatius Insight Scoop, who gives us the above, as well as this from Zenit:

"Sacred polyphony," the Holy Father said Saturday after a concert held in his honor by the Domenico Bartolucci Foundation, "especially the so-called 'Roman school,' is a legacy that must be carefully conserved, maintained alive and made known." (emphasis mine)



rhapsody said...

What a relief!

A question somewhat off topic...

I have heard Taize music- being too lazy to look it up myself, would you mind writing a little about it?


Brian Michael Page said...

I will admit to not knowing much on the Taize stuff, though I've used some (not frequently). I'd have to research some more on it before I could write anything. That is, unless one of my brother snarks here know better on it (which isn't a bad thing either) ;)


Nick said...

I don't want to disagree with the pope, but I would love it if there existed sacred polyphony that was also congregation-friendly.

And I write this knowing full well that "full and conscious participation" could mean active listening.

But if there isn't a single sacred polyphony out there that can be even remotely made congregational-friendly, I fear that it will only be used in special occassions. Becuase polyphony is HARD...

(except for Row, Row, Row Your Boat...)

Brian Michael Page said...

Ah, then you haven't seen my Ave Maria yet - written in 1985, it can be used as a hymn OR a motet. I purposely set it in two keys - F if you want to use it as a hymn sung by the congregation (top note D), and A-flat if you want to use it as a motet (top note F).


Nick said...

In all due respect, it's hard to take self-promotion-as-answer-to-question seriously. (Nothing against self-promotion; but does your piece have references? )

I would love it if Ben-16 introduces to U.S. Catholic liturgists and bishops the ancient polyphonies to be preserved, of the thousands of ancient manuscripts--that happen to be congregation-friendly. While I want to support current music as well, I highly doubt any congregational-friendly ancient polyphonies exist.

PhiMuAlpha2681 said...

Polyphony was not designed to be congregational. That's why we have the permission for the choir to sing alone at various points of the Mass. If the Holy Father's goal is the proliferation and rediscovery of sacred polyphony, I don't think he intends to make it something it's not: congregational. (Especially since he is a proponent of listening as active participation.) This is also true for secular music: Machault's "Rose, liz, printemps, verdure" was probably not the first song that was spontaneously broken into. It was sung and played by the musicians. Some places have enough trouble getting people to sing the Iubilate Deo chants...I don't know how we can get the congregations to sing polyphonically when they can't/won't sing simple monody.


Nick said...

I wish I could be assauged by such comments. I'm just not. The documents on the liturgy seem to promote two concurrently contradictory ideas: foster active participation upon the lay faithful, and promote uncongregational-friendly music.

Granted, active listening is part of active participation, but it's hard to actively listen when there are two or three competing non-syncronized melodies singing over each other, all of which in a foreign language.

I most certainly accept it's part of our history, our deep-held Catholic heritage. But I also remember that, in times when polyphony was popular, people knew Latin. If you knew how to read, you read Latin. In societies where the Romantic languages were prominant, Latin was a common denominator. If you spread the Gospel, you did so in Latin, which was the vernacular for its day. The opposite is true today, which makes active listening all the more difficult.

By all means, let's preserve our Catholic heritage. But we're gonna hafta have a LOT of assistance.

Charles in CA said...

Well, I'm not in the office with my Pius X, but right of the noggin one can cite the Palestrina attributed THE STRIFE IS O'ER and EST IST EIN ROSE ENTSPRUNGEN (Hassler?) as examples of the blending of homophony and polyphony that clearly are congregation friendly. Maybe INNSBRUCK by Isaacs as well.
I don't find the IGRM options contradictory at all, Nick, In point of fact, I find them absolutely representative of the philosophy of "catholicism," in other words: the more options, the better to adapt and adopt to one's liturgical circumstances and resources.
Your citing of Latin as the "lingua franca" of the emergent RC Church and later empires only goes so far as a rationale for devaluing its use in contemporaneous worship. The clarity of the documents' intents (and one of great issue to the current pope) stress both the symbolic and virtual universality that IS the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. YMMV.

Domini Sumus said...

Congrats, this post is one of National Catholic Register's posts of the day.

Charles in CA said...

Which post, DS?

Brian Michael Page said...

Which post, DS?

The one we're all commenting on here Charles.

BMP at CV ;)

Charles in CA said...

Uh oh, Brian.....does that mean we're all on somebody's list somewhere? NCR's? I see. Well, gotta go...must pack....update resume...change Social Security #...
Hey, I'm going to Rome for the first time (pilgimage w/ pastor) in February! Yay. Cardinal Levada of CDF was one of my pastor's seminary instructors so I'm hopin' for the front row! Do they let Californians into the Sistine Chapel or the new hall? You know, with the RCMahoney business an' all? ;-)

Brian Michael Page said...

Nah - it's all safe Charles. Really. ;)

BTW, I got your CD's yesterday. Thanks much. I'll be listening over the weekend. Have a safe trip in Roma.


aaron said...

I jus find it funny that the link is from The Age. Not notorius for good religious coverage let alone "good" religious coverage. Here in Australia many of the radio and TV networks use a former priest and dissident as the Catholic "expert".

lyn f. said...

Do they let Californians into the Sistine Chapel or the new hall? You know, with the RCMahoney business an' all? ;-)

Well hey Charles, if they let me in (I'm from San Diego), then surely they'll let you in! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Let me correct one thing. Pre-Vatican II Masses were not ENTIRELY in Latin. The homilies were given in the vernacular, so the spreading of the Gospel was in an understandable language. Do you want to know what the congregation sang? Hymns. They didn't understand the latin so much but they could sing them because most were metric and (like all hymns) repetitive.